Meet Telly judge Lexi Hayes, the Managing Director at Casual, a renowned production agency known for pushing creative boundaries. Lexi has become a driving force in the industry, constantly seeking new ways to innovate and elevate storytelling. Throughout her career she has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience that have influenced her approach to being a Telly Awards Judge.

Read our interview with Lexi below to learn more about her career in film and what it has taught her about creating great content! 

What was your first job in the industry? What did it teach you?

I started out as an Account Executive at J Walter Thompson. It was fast paced, full of energy and personalities. I ate so much cereal because I worked on the Kelloggs client. I loved the chaos and learning how everyone responded to a challenge…it made me consider if I’d respond the same way and ultimately shaped me as a hybrid of all the best bits from inspiring people. 

What are the best and worst pieces of professional advice you’ve received? 

The best advice: always challenge yourself to grow. Personally, this has motivated me to take on things that terrify me, to learn new skills, to meet people who do it way better than me and learn from them too. 

The worst? Be more ‘professional’. I don’t know if I can really be more anything without losing out on authenticity. Cultural fit is a killer of cultural expansion, and we can all benefit from someone being something you’ve never seen before.

What’s a creative risk you took recently? How did it turn out? 

We work with exceptional clients who are exceptionally time-poor. Briefs can be watered down to ‘good is good enough’. At Casual, the brilliant company I belong to, we push bold ideas because we’re passionate about great video, and while this takes a bit more fine-tuning, the outcome is something everyone is proud of. Creative integrity is risky but so rewarding.

What project are you most proud to have worked on?

My company invests time and effort into Casual Academy to foster young people and position them for success in the industry. We’re in the early stages of launching this in Australia, and it’s been really rewarding to see the impact of the program. 

What’s the best part of your job? What’s the most challenging?

I love keeping up with new trends and technologies that advance the industry. The rise of AI tech is both an exciting and a challenging one – harnessing these tools and getting on the front foot to lift the creative standard is met with both terror and awe. Let’s hope it’s a bit more of the latter as we all come to grips with it!

What do you look for when reviewing Telly Award entries? 

Storytelling is our social currency. If a piece of content doesn’t connect with the audience it will not resonate. And this can be powerful thought-provoking enlightenment or a little wry smile, but there has to be a story told to evoke emotion and influence behaviour.